The Most Dangerous Caves in the World

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Throughout the dawn of time, caves have fascinated and captivated people everywhere. They could just as easily be openings into mysterious, unseen worlds. But sometimes the unknown comes with a price: many of these mysterious locations feature some of the more dangerous caves the world has to offer.

Spelunking is notable since it is one of the last remaining forms of exploration.

In addition, new caves are constantly being discovered. It’s often inspiring to see how brave men and women before us have uncovered fascinating secrets about the planet we all share. Despite sometimes taking on extraordinary risk, people often band together to accomplish a task no one else has before them.

If you ask any experienced caver, they will tell you that caves of any size or complexity have the potential to be hazardous. Let’s find out what makes these caverns so hazardous so that we can avoid them.

In this article, we are going to cover some of those caves that you should NOT be rushing to visit. These caves have claimed the lives of many explorers over the years, so it’s a good idea to be aware of the regions to avoid.

Dark Star Cave, Uzbekistan

The Dark Star Cave is located in the remote Baiyun Tau mountains on the Uzbek-Afghan border. This enormous cave system is home to everything from gushing waterfalls to icy lakes.

Getting to the cave’s base camp is no easy feat. It takes a two-day hike up a difficult trail and a trip along the Silk Road to Samarkand. And that’s just to get to the starting point! You can reach the Dark Star’s jaws after a two-hour hike and a 100-meter-high rope climb.

Dark Star Cave’s frigid chambers extend for miles. It’s no surprise that it’s been nicknamed “Underground Everest.” The deepest passage in Dark Star, roughly 3,000 feet (915 m) below the planet’s surface, has been investigated by eight separate trips thus far.

An image shows the varied cave formations in the massive Dark Star Cave of Uzbekistan.

Krubera Cave, Georgia

This cave might be #1 on the list of most dangerous caves on earth.

Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains are home to one of the world’s most difficult and anxiety-inducing caverns, Krubera Cave. Within this Abkhazian cave, scuba divers and spelunkers have gone as far as 1.3 miles down (2,091 m).

They still need to locate the opposite end of it! In addition, the cave can stretch for up to ten kilometers beneath the mountain range. Even an explorer with expertise could get lost in the maze of interconnecting shafts and side tunnels.

In addition, the water level in several offshoot tunnels is high enough to prevent any amateurs from attempting to investigate them. Interestingly, Krubera is also well-known for being one of the world’s oldest caves. Geologists believe that ancient water chiseled it out before the Jurassic period.

Learn more about Krubera Cave here.

A spelunker rappels back up from the Krubera Cave of Georgia, the most dangerous of all known caves.

Wind Cave, South Dakota, U.S.

The Wind Cave in South Dakota is one of the world’s largest caverns. Its extreme size earned its place on this list of dangerous caves. This intricate underground network is the first cave in the world to be designated a national park.

Don’t be deceived by the cave’s attractive names and photos. There’s a complex maze of tunnels and chambers here. It also has more channels per cubic mile than any other cave, making it the densest cave in the world. Because there are so few exits, it is also quite windy. This is what makes it so dangerous

Air is constantly sucked into and expelled from the cave to maintain a consistent pressure differential between the inside and exterior. As a result, the cave constantly “breathes” with a powerful wind flow. The US National Park Service has a dedicated group of spelunkers who are always looking for stranded adventurers so they can quickly come to their aid.

Recent surveying has estimated that Wind Cave features over 150 miles (241 km) of tunnels.

A massive hole in the ground is shown from above, where Wind Cave's 150 miles of tunnels awaits.

Learn more about Wind Cave here.

Naica Mine, Mexico

This cave offers the most unhealthy sauna experience imaginable. Naica Cave, owned by the Mexican mining firm ‘Penoles,’ features year-round temperatures of 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50° C) and one hundred percent humidity levels. At some times, it can rise to as much as 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.7° C)! You’ll need a cooling system and breathing apparatus to even stand inside.

Sometimes called the “Sistine Chapel of Crystals” or “Cave of Crystals”, it’s is the world’s largest crystal cave; however, visiting it requires some effort.

To get to the crystals, which are believed to be over 49 feet (14.9 m) in length and weigh 50 tons (about 100,000 pounds!) requires descending the mountain by nearly a kilometer. Yet the chances of surviving a fall are slim, making this a highly hazardous adventure.

In addition, it’s not only dangerous to get inside these caves, it’s likely you will never have a chance to. Sometime not long ago, a worker tried to enter the cave to steal some of the selenite crystal, only to suffocate and die.

Learn more about Naica Cave here.

A worker is shown at the Cave of Crystals in Mexico.

The Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosi, Mexico

For its tremendous depth, difficult descent, and unpredictable weather, Mexico’s Cave of Swallows earns a reputation as one of the world’s most dangerous caves. Some of the explanations are as follows:

The cave’s entrance is a gigantic shaft that plunges straight down for over a thousand feet (300 m). Even for seasoned cavers, making a mistake on the descent can result in serious injury or death.

The winds in this cave may reach rates of 120 miles (193 km) per hour, making it a popular destination for thrill seekers. Strong gusts can make it hard to regulate your descent, leading you into dangerous parts of the cave where you might get stuck.

Some adventurous people go base jumping around this area, but you can count me out.

An aerial view shows the top side of the Cave of Swallows in Mexico.

Chevé Cave, Mexico

Chevé, located in the Sierra Mazateca mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, is the deepest cave system in the Western Hemisphere. It’s also well-known for being one of the most dangerous caves you can find.

In the middle of the 1980s, Bill Farr and Carol Vesely stumbled upon Chevé Cave. It has been excavated to a depth of 4869 feet (1480 m) since then, making it the second-deepest cave in the Americas.

In 2015, a dye trace from the cave’s entrance to the resurgence 8350 feet (2.55 km) below ground proved that this system had the greatest demonstrated depth potential in the world.

And because of this, the cave is extremely hazardous. In the 1990s, Indiana caver Christopher Yeager fell to his death while attempting to rappel the 75-foot (23 m) drop at Chevé Cave, and this was not the first time the cave had been linked to a death. Yeager was buried in a tunnel close to where he had fallen eleven days after the tragedy.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

The cave system at Son Doong is the largest known to man. Indeed, no other experience compares to it. Complete ecosystems within this cave, including grasslands, forests, and even small mountain ranges, complete with their cave networks!

Son Doong’s main cave is almost 700 feet (213 m) high, stretches for 3 miles (4.8 km), and features a beach complete with tides. Massive rooms of varying sizes may be found throughout the cave system, which stretches for 6 miles (9 km).

The Vietnamese government designated the area, formally known as Hang Son Doong, as a national park after its discovery in 1991. Some cliffs in the cave are as high as 500 feet (152 m). Thus, only a trained professional should attempt to explore it. Cavers without proper training or expertise should proceed with caution.

A beautiful natural view of the lighting and various colors that are shown at Son Doong's Cave of Vietnam.

Optymistychna (Optimistic) Cave, Ukraine

It is the sixth longest tunnel in the world at 140 miles (230 km); however, this gypsum cave in central Ukraine is extremely small and cramped. The average height of the tunnels is about 5 feet (1.5 m), yet there are a few rooms with 33-foot (10 m) ceilings.

Its name means “Optimistic”, so calling this cave a labyrinth is a bit paradoxical, but it is exactly that.

Gypsum is easily damaged, and a powerful blow could cause a little collapse in the wall. Less than a foot (30 centimeters) separates you from the outside in certain spots! Optymistychna is one of the most claustrophobic caves on this list due to its many side tunnels that branch off the main shaft and transform into mazes of small corridors.

It’s not only one of the most dangerous caves due to its gypsum, but also because of how easily you can get lost in here.

An image of the waters and inside of Optymistychna (Optimistic) Cave of Ukraine, one of the more dangerous gypsum caves in the world.

Sima de la Cormisa, Spain

The second-deepest cave in the world is adjacent to the first- and third-deepest caverns. The most adventurous cavers will have plenty of caves to explore in this area.

You’ve probably noticed that with most of the dangerous caves, you have to be prepared for steep climbs. This cave is no different.

Located in the Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe) mountain range, Sima de la Cormisa is essentially a vertical plummet down the center of a mountain. This cave is alarming since it goes down to a depth of 1887 meters (4944 ft). If you happen to fall, then most certainly, it will lead to your demise.

Despite the danger, some courageous climbers persist in attempting to traverse the cave’s walls in small groups. This is up your alley if you’re the kind of person who’s comfortable in underground environments and atop high peaks.


Want to read about more of the world’s most remote and hazardous caves? When you add water and diving, caving suddenly becomes even riskier. Learn about the world’s most dangerous underwater caves next.

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